Glossary of VA Jargon

  1. Abatement
    ending of a suit; an action will not "be abated" if a motion is granted for a venue defect, it will be transferred rather than ended
  2. Ab initio
    "from the beginning"; as in a judgment entered by a court that lacks SMJ is void ab initio
  3. Ab damnum
    the portion of P's pleading which specifies the amount of money the suit seeks
  4. Additur
    a rare maneuver in which the trial judge thinks a jury verdict is too low, and tells D taht unless D accepts a higher amount, the trial judge will give P a new trial
  5. Assignments of error
    • every appellant must write out a short summary of each of the errors made in the lower tribunal that appellant claims are grounds for reversal, called assignments of error
    • the appeal is limited to the exact scope of what is asserted in the assignments
  6. Bailiwick
    the territory in which a sheriff has jurisdiction; usually, a city or county
  7. Bailment
    • the COA one uses when property is left w/ someone and is damaged
    • can be "gratuitous" (no payment, bailee need only use some care) or "compensated" (bailee is liable for negl, or for departure from the terms of the owner who entrusted the property to him)
  8. Bill of Particulars
    move to have the court require P to spell out more particularly what the motion for judgment is trying to allege
  9. Certiorari
    the proceeding one brings in CC to challenge zoning rulings
  10. Chancery
    old name for the equity side of CC
  11. Chancellor
    the CC judge when hearing an equitable claim and particularly when presiding at a bench trial
  12. Collateral estoppel
    issue preclusion: areises in VA where the same parties who previously actively litigated a specific issue and reached a final judgment, are again facing each other in a later case where that fact/issue could have some effect
  13. Collateral Source Rule
    • the doctrine that even if an injured person will receive insurance recoveries he or she may still sue the tortfeasor for personal injuries and property damage P has suffered
    • insurance or other payment is "collateral" to the tortfeasor's obligation to pay
  14. Commissioner
    • usually -- a lawyer appointed by the court in an equity suit to hear evidence and make a report recommending how the court should rule
    • this happens in DR cases, real property cases such as easement disputes, and other "chancery" causes of action
    • sometimes a "special commissioner" is appointed to do some act the court requires, such as to convey title, when the parties refuse but the court insists
  15. Committee
    • one form of guardian appointed for a person under a disability (eg, mental cases and convicts)
    • despite the nomenclature, it's usu. an individual
  16. Confession of Judgment
    K term that allows the creditor to simply register a judgment if the debtor falls into default w/out even filing a lawsuit (!)
  17. Continuance
    the case is adjourned to a later date
  18. Contribution
    • the equitable COA for one tortfeasor to sue other joint tortfeasors for their share of the liability to the injured party
    • in VA, contribution is "pro rata" (equal shares) rather than proportionate to culpability (not comparative)
  19. Decree
    a word sometimes used to refer to the final order or judgment reached in an equitable suit
  20. Demurrer
    the pleading that works in VA like a motion to dismiss -- it challenges the face of the bill of complaint/motion for judgment and says: if we take all these averments as true, does P have a viable claim here?
  21. Detinue
    civil action in VA to seek recovery of personal property
  22. Devisavit vel non
    an action devisavit vel non is a proceeding to determine whether there is a valid will, which may be heard by the judge, w/ or w/out an advisory jury
  23. Ejectment
    the form of lawsuit used when you wish to assert title to real property
  24. Eminent domain
    condemnation of property by a govt or authorized utility
  25. Ex Contractu or Ex Delicto
    • general references for "all contract type actions" or "tort-type actions"
    • "for venue purposes, actions ex contractu arise either where the agreement is made, or where it is breached"
  26. Execution
    enforcement orf judgments and liens
  27. Extraordinary writs
    habeas corpus (to challenge validity of incarceration), mandamus or prohibition (to order a lower court or official to do something or refrain from acting), coram nobis (asking for a new trial)
  28. Fieri Facias
    • "fi fa"
    • writ directing the sheriff to execute a judgment or lien
  29. Forum non conveniens
    in VA, means either dismissal of a VA case in contemplation that the action will proceed in another state or nation, or a simple transfer to avoid gross inconvenience when P selects a valid venue but it is terrifically inconvenient
  30. Garnishment
    • statutory procedure a creditor may use to force people or entities who owe a debtor money to pay those funds to the creditor, rather than the debotr
    • Ex - the creditor garnishes wages taht would otherwise be paid to the debtor, or a bank account of the debtor
  31. Laches
    no SOL for equitable claims, but the doctrine of laches is a recognized defense in equity, asking the chancellor to deem a claim barred by unjustified delay in assertion which prejudiced the D's ability to defend (eg, witness died meantime)
  32. Lis pendens
    a notice of lis pendens is notice that a suit is pending which may affect a real property (title, liens, etc.) usually docketed with the clerk of the city or county where property is located
  33. Misnomer
    • suing and describing the correct D but making a relatively minor (clerical) error in spelling the name of the party
    • if the correct person gets served and has notice, and the error is minor, P can amend and the filing date of the original action will be used for SOL purposes rather than the later date when the naming is corrected
  34. Next friend
    a competent adult who files suit on behalf of a minor or disabled person (no appointment by the court is necessary)
  35. Nonsuit
    P's voluntary discontinuance of a lawsuit
  36. Nuisance
    tort action for anything that interferes w/ an owner/occupier of land's enjoyment of the premises
  37. Nunc pro tunc
    • do it now, as though it was done before
    • eg, retroactively modifying a payment schedule, or correcting a judgment which had clerical problems expressing the court's rulings
  38. Ore tenus
    • taken orally
    • eg, the court heard the evidence ore tenus, live witnesses as opposed to receiving affidavits or depositions
  39. Partition
    • the equitable COA where two co-owners or inheritors of property can't agree on its disposition
    • if its in their best interests, the court should "divide in kind" if that's feasible or require a sale and simply divide the proceeds
  40. Petition for Appeal
    • after you make a timely notice of appeal w/in 30 days after the judgment, the "petition for appeal" is a written application w/in three calendar months after a trial court judgment, seeking to have the SCV allow you to appeal a civil case, or the Court of Appeals to hear your criminal conviction appeal
    • not needed in DR or workers comp cases going to the Court of Appeals b/c (rare in VA) those are appeals "of right"
  41. Plea in Equity
    a single, dispositive factual proposition asserted as a plea in bar in an equity proceeding (that is, as a defense that obviates the claim), as to which there is a right by statute in VA for empanelling a jury even though the case is in equity, and the jury's verdict on a plea in equity is binding
  42. Praecipe
    • a notice document in VA procedure, served on adversaries and filed, to announce readiness for a proceeding, or notify adversaries of a court date
    • file a praecipe
  43. Privity
    a case-law doctrine that where two or more people share a joint right, or where on obtains a property interest from another person, the present party can for some purposes be treated as bing bound by notice to or legal actions against the other person w/ whom the party is in privity
  44. Writ of Prohibition
    writ sought to order a lower ranking judge to stop doing something that is beyond statutory powers
  45. Receiver
    a person appointed by the CC in an equitable proceeding w/ power to run a business involved in the litigation until the court can sort out whether the owners or managers are acting improperly
  46. Reformation
    equitable relief which "rewrites" the contract so that it matches the intentions that the parties had at the outset
  47. Remittitur
    • reduction of a jury award by the judge where there is no adequate factual basis for th emount of award given by the jury
    • P may accept this amount, or demand a new trial
  48. Rescission
    cancelling a contract for such things as mutual mistake or misrepresentation
  49. Res Judicata
    • claim preclusion
    • codified in VA and governs all claims arising from the same conduct, transaction or occurrence
  50. Satisfaction
    paying off the loan or judgment amount
  51. Special Appearance
    • appearing for the sole purpose of arguing that the court lacks PJ over D
    • used to contest service of process and "minimum contacts" Due Process limits on PJ
  52. Setoff
    where D asserts that P owes money relating to the same transaction
  53. Statute of Frauds
    contracts involving ownership of real estate or Ks involving more than $25,000 or performance duties lasting more than one year, must be in writing
  54. Subpoena duces tecum
    • subpoena to call for production of records by a 3d party (not subject to discovery rules)
    • in GDC, where discovery is not generally available, party can still seek this
  55. Quo warranto
    an action for legal writ that challenges the power of a public officer to do whatever is being done
  56. Unclean hands
    • defense available in K cases and all equitable claims, which applies anytime P has acted improperly in the same transaction from which he now seeks equitable relief
    • if found, bars all remedies
  57. Unlawful Detainer
    civil action to oust a tenant of possession of leased premises
  58. Vested rights
    concept that Due Process prevents another person or the govt from taking away an established ownership interest or right, such as the right to subdivide property
  59. Voir Dire
    questioning of potential jurors (venire) to see whether they should be "excused for cause"
  60. Warrant in debt
    • a pre-printed one-page pleading used to start most cases in GDC
    • complaint can be used, but in GDC usually Ps just sign the form, check the box to indicate that D owes money, and the case is begun when the form is filed
    • used for PI or property damage, or K matters
  61. Writ of possession
    order authorizing a landlord to retake possession of the premises
  62. Writ tax
    one of the fees collected when you commence a lawsuit in VA
  63. Wrongful death
    statutory COA at law for negl torts resulting in death of the victim, maintained on behalf of prescribed beneficiaries
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Glossary of VA Jargon
Glossary of VA Jargon